6 Things to Know About the Florida Roofing Code in 2021

When the calendar turns on a new year, individuals aren't the only ones making commitments to better themselves and make some necessary changes. The resolutions also apply to organizations and industries, as evidenced by the updated Florida Building Code that took effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The Code's History

Statewide building codes in Florida were first enacted in 1974, amid a surging population influx and the construction boom that followed. Some two decades later, a series of devastating natural disasters (namely Hurricane Andrew) on top of an increasingly complex overlap of regional codes caused the state to reexamine its approach. A comprehensive review of the state building code system exposed that the "strongest" codes were insufficient to protect structures during major hurricane events. The Florida Building Commission was formed, and it mandated that statewide building codes be revisited and refreshed every three years. The code was last updated in 2017, and more than 1,200 proposed code modifications were considered.

The current Florida Building Code states as its intent: "The purpose of this code is to establish the minimum requirements to provide a reasonable level of safety, public health and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment." One goal of the code is to ensure the safety of emergency personnel, including firefighters and other first responders, when they conduct emergency operations.

Details on the Current Florida Building Code

This latest seventh edition of the Florida Building Code contains noteworthy updates to roofing requirements, such as wind load, mitigation and energy conservation. Here are several of the changes that concern those in the roofing industry:

1. Wind Loads

Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in the Sunshine State knows that weather can be chaotic. Gusting winds, especially during tropical storm season, can wreak havoc on homes and other structures. The Building Code remains unchanged for residential structures in regard to wind loads, but it has been updated based on a new wind speed map and the Risk Category IV buildings that are vulnerable to damaging winds in "high-velocity hurricane zones." In Miami-Dade County, for example, roofs must be able to withstand 195 mph winds. On top of those new requirements, increased wind loads for canopies, skylights and rooftop solar panels are now enforced.

2. Roofing Underlayment

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has determined that sealed roof decks can mitigate the damage caused with total roof losses. These new underlaying requirements now correlate with IIBHS standards. When the primary roof covering is lost due to a wind event, water infiltration can cause extensive damage and can lead to ceiling collapse when insulation is saturated, plus mold growth when power is lost. Updates from the sixth edition of the Florida Building Codes include stipulations that felt underlayment be 30 pounds or equivalent and that installation techniques (regarding plies, lapping and fastener spacing) for sealed roof decks be strengthened.

3. Soffits

The underside of house eaves or rafters is an instrumental part of a roof — not to mention a home's overall aesthetic. These soffits (a word derived from the Latin "suffixus," which means "to fix underneath") historically haven't been able to withstand hurricane-strength winds, so the new Florida Building Code changes address wind loads and specific installation details. When soffits fail, wind-driven rain can infiltrate the attic and cause significant water damage. Prescriptive details for a variety of soffit materials (e.g., hardboard, vinyl or fiber-cement) have been added to improve installation efforts.

4. Prescriptive Fastening

Requirements for wood structural panel roof sheathing also have been updated. Nail size now depends on sheathing thickness: If it's 15/32 inches or less, ASTM F1667 RSRS-01 nails must be used for fastening; thicknesses greater than 15/32 inches require either ASTM 1667 RSRS-03 or -04 nails.

5. Roof Mitigation

The Florida Building Code changes instances when a wood roof deck is removed and replaced. This rule previously applied to only site-built single-family residences but now includes apartments, office buildings and other modular structures. Stronger mitigation measures are now in place, such as the need to apply a secondary water barrier and include additional fastenings to ensure a safe roof replacement.

6. Cable and Raceway Wiring

To provide protection against accidental damage to metal electrical conduit during reroofing, such conduit must be encased in concrete or supported above the roof covering. Additionally, metal electrical conduit must be located not less than 1 1/2 inches from the lowest surface of corrugated metal sheet roof decking.

Rest assured, Latite Roofing adheres to all Florida Building Code rules and regulations. As the state's largest roofing outfit, we are committed to providing roofing services that exceed customer expectations for quality, safety and dependability. Our experts can alleviate any concerns you have regarding new construction or timely repairs. Connect with us if you want more information or a price quote.